Festival ta' Loghob Tradizzjonali Malti fil-Birgu
Children Relive Age of Innocence in the City of Birgu
A girl pretends to be a bee and buzzes around a circle of children sitting on the ground while she holds a small pebble in her hand.
She drops the pebble near a seated boy who picks up the stone, sprints out of his place and starts chasing her until she takes his place in the circle – it’s his turn to play the part of the bee now.
As the game goes on other curious children join the circle to have a go at playing Iż-Żunżana Ddur Iddur (the bee buzzes around) in the streets of Vittoriosa.
Like a scene from the past, the city yesterday swarmed with children playing traditional Maltese outdoor games during a festival organised to revive the playful part of our heritage.
Seventy-one-year-old Emanuel Attard, who helped out during the festival, remembered playing the games with his neighbourhood friends when he was a child.
“We would play in the road. There were barely any cars in those days.
“If I had to go back in time I’d much rather play those type of games than spend hours sitting at a computer as children do nowadays,” Mr Attard said as he looked at children playing the familiar games with a feeling of nostalgia.
Those who turned up yesterday took a shot at playing Passju (hop scotch) and tested the precision of their aim at Boċċi and Ballun Stop (stop ball).
In the square, other children played Gwerra Franċiża (French war) in which they took turns at catching one another while others tried il-Logħba tal-Maktur (the handkerchief game) in which they tried to grab a handkerchief from their opponent.
Those who preferred something less physically demanding opted for games like Ħaġa Moħġaġa, based on riddles, or Bum Bum il-Bieb (knock, knock at the door) where children sang about an Ambassador in search of a wife.
The majority of the games were at the height of their popularity during the British period when many families were unable to afford the luxury of toys and the streets were still generally traffic-free.
Children, therefore, created their own diversions making use of whatever means were available to them.
Children were not the only ones in need of diversion. Adults also looked forward to a game of Boċċi with their friends after a week of work.
The festival was organised by the The National Museum of Ethnography, within Heritage Malta, and the Vittoriosa council.
BallunStop: One player holds a ball and throws it high into the air while he calls out the name of one of the other children who will be running around. When the person, whose name was called, catches the ball he cries “Stop” and the other children stop running. If he catches the ball immediately he wins the right to call out another name. If not he must then try to hit a child with the ball or be expelled from the game. Players hit four times are also expelled.
Tal-Maktur: Each member of two teams is given a number. A neutral player stands in the middle holding a handkerchief and calls out numbers at random. The players of opposing teams, who have that number, run out to try and grab the handkerchief and return back to base before being caught by the opponent.
Gwerra Franċiża: Two teams stand behind a line. Team members start running out one at a time and chasing members of the opposing team. Those captured are taken to “prison” and can be saved by a peer who manages to touch their hand. The rescued prisoner returns back to play. The game ends when a player manages to get through the opponent’s base, situated beyond the line.
FESTIVAL TA' LOGĦOB TRADIZZJONALI MALTI
Il-Mużew Nazzjonali tal-Etnografija (Il-Palazz ta’ l-Inkwiżitur) fi ħdan Heritage Malta, u l-Kunsill Lokali tal-Birgu ser jorganiżżaw festival uniku ta' logħob tradizzjonali Malti nhar il-Ħadd 15 ta' Novembruu 2009 bejn is-13:00 u s-18:00. Dan il-festival, li ser jinżamm fit-toroq tal-Birgu u fil-Palazz tal-Inkwiżitur, għandu l-għan li jinvolvi lit-tfal kif ukoll lill-ġenituri tagħhom fil-qawmien mill-ġdid ta' logħob li għal ħafna snin taw ħajja lit-toroq tal-bliet u l-irħula tal-gżejjer tagħna.
Dawk li jattendu jkollhom l-opportunità jaraw sa fejn twassal il-ħila tagħhom fil-Passju u jqiegħdu għall-prova l-preċiżjoni tal-mira tagħhom fil-Boċċi u l-Ballun Stop. Jistgħu jagħżlu li jiġru wara t-team rivali fil-Gwerra Franċiża, jagħmlu l-għalmu tagħhom biex jaqbdu maktur qabel ma jagħmel dan l-avversarju tagħhom fil-Logħba tal-Maktur, jippruvaw mill-aħjar biex ma jinqabdux f’Ħarba jew jiġru wara ż-żunżana f’Iż-Żunżana Ddur Iddur. Dawk li jippreferu xi ħaġa li tirrikjedi inqas eżerċizzju fiżiku jistgħu jilagħbu Ħaġa Moħġaġa, Dawra Durella jew Bum Bum il-Bieb, filwaqt li oħrajn jistgħu jiddeċiedu li jattendu sessjoni prattika fejn wieħed jista’ jibni tajra, jew manoċċa kif inhi magħrufa fiż-Żejtun, u mbagħad wara itajjarha.
Il-maġġoranza kbira tal-logħob imsemmi hawn fuq kienu fil-quċċata tal-popolarità tagħhom fil-perjodu Ingliż meta ħafna familji ma setgħux jixtru ġugarelli lussużi u ġeneralment it-toroq ma kellhomx ħafna traffiku. It-tfal għaldaqstant ħolqu d-divertiment tagħhom stess billi użaw il-mezzi li kellhom disponibbli. Il-blalen, li kienu jintużaw biex jintlagħbu l-logħob Ballun Stop u ż-Żunżana Ddur Iddur, kienu ta’ spiss ikunu magħmulin miċ-ċaruta, filwaqt li kienu jintużaw ċagħqiet jew ġebel żgħir biex jimmarkaw in-numri tal-Passju. It-tfal kienu wkoll jħobbu jtajru t-tajriet minħabba li biex wieħed jagħmel tajra ma kienx jiswa ħafna flus għax kien jeħtieġ biss karti tat-tajr, qasab, kolla u ħajt, materjali li kollha faċli ssibhom. Meta wieħed ma kienx jista’ jixtri lanqas l-irħas materjali, it-tfal kienu jduru għal logħob li, bħal Dawra Durella, ma kienu jirrikjedu xejn ħlief li flimkien il-parteċipanti jiftehmu li ħa jieħdu gost, u jżommu idejn xulxin u jduru f’ċirku filwaqt li jkantaw taqbila ferriħija.
Xi logħob partikolari kien jirrifletti ukoll il-kuntest soċjopolitiku taż-żmien u kien jirrapreżenta dak li kien ikun mistenni mit-tfal ladarba dawn jikbru. Gwerra Franċiża u Ħarba, pereżempju, jirriflettu b’mod qawwi l-esperjenza tal-gwerra, bil-qabda u l-ħelsien tal-priġunieri bħala l-għan tal-logħbiet. Filwaqt li s-subien kienu ta’ spiss jilgħabu logħob fejn setgħu juru s-saħħa fiżika, il-bniet kienu jippreferu jipparteċipaw f’logħob li kien jindika l-istat futur tagħhom. Logħba ta’ din ix-xorta kienet Bum Bum il-Bieb li kienet tikkonsisti fl-għażla ta’ xebba sabiħa biex tkun il-mara ta’ Kavallier li qed jivvjaġġa fit-tfittxija għall-imħabba – il-ħolma ta’ ħafna tfajliet.
Madankollu, it-tfal ma kienux l-uniċi li kien ikollhom bżonn tad-divertiment; l-irġiel kienu jistennew bil-ħerqa logħba tal-Boċċi ma’ sħabhom wara ġimgħa xogħol. Il-Boċċi li l-oriġini tagħha probabbli tmur lura għal żmien il-Kavallieri, tinvolvi li wieħed jipprova jersaq l-iktar viċin tal-likk u li jżomm lill-avversarji tiegħu milli jagħmlu hekk. Filwaqt li l-Boċċi kienu jintlagħbu esklussivament mill-irġiel, in-nisa kellhom id-divertiment tagħhom. Logħba ta’ Ħaġa Moħġaġa kienet tinżel għasel magħhom u kienet tirrikjedi ħila konsiderevoli biex wieħed isolvi l-kliem misterjuż li ġeneralment kienet tgħidu l-iktar mara anzjana tal-grupp.
Kif inhu l-każ ukoll għal forom oħra ta’ wirt intanġibbli, il-logħob tradizzjonali qegħdin f’riskju li jintesew mill-ġenerazzjonijiet iż-żgħar li m’għadx għandhom l-opportunità jilagħbuhom. Dan il-festival għaldaqstant għandu l-għan li jippreżenta l-logħob bħala parti integrali mill-identità kulturali Maltija. Bħala parti minn dan l-isforz, Heritage Malta, fi ħdan il-Palazz tal-Inkwiżitur, qed torganizza wkoll wirja temporanja ta’ mudelli ta’ altari u għamara tal-knejjes li għal ġenerazzjonijiet servew ta’ ġugarelli għal bosta subien. Dawk li jattendu l-festival ikollhom ukoll l-opportunità li jippreżentaw il-ġugarelli li għandhom fil-pussess taghhom u li huma ta’ qabel l-1980 bħala donazzjonijiet lill-kollezzjoni nazzjonali. Min jagħti donazzjoni jingħata rċevuta uffiċjali mit-team kuratorjali tal-Palazz tal-Inkwiżitur.
Il-ġenituri u t-tfal li jattendu dan il-festival jistgħu jibqgħu ċerti li ħa jqattgħu ħin ta’ kwalità flimkien, u b’hekk isaħħu l-valur tal-familja u jiskopru mill-ġdid il-gost ta’ meta wieħed jilgħab logħbiet sempliċi imma interessanti ħafna u li jipprovdu alternattiva tajba għal-logħob għali u teknoloġiku. Dawk kollha li jipparteċipaw ikollhom ukoll l-okkażjoni li jħallu warajhom, għal nofstanhar, stil ta’ ħajja li għal ħafna saret dejjem iktar sedentarja, u jeżerċitaw kemm il-ġisem kif ukoll il-moħħ b’logħob li jirrikjedi ħeffa u kreattività. Barra milli wieħed iqatta' wara nofsinhar jieħu gost mal-familja, dal-festival jagħti wkoll iċ-ċans lill-adulti li jerġgħu jgħixu t-tfulija tagħhom, u t-tfal ikollhom l-opportunità jgawdu logħob li pprovda lill-ġenituri u lin-nanniet tagħhom b’dak li probabilment jiddeskrivu bħala l-aħjar żmien ta’ ħajjithom.
A Revival of Traditional Maltese Games in Birgu
The National Museum of Ethnography, within Heritage Malta, and the Birgu Local Council are organising a unique festival of traditional Maltese games on Sunday 15th November 2009 between 13:00 and 18:00hrs. Held on the streets of Birgu and within the Inquisitor’s Palace, this festival aims to engage children and parents alike in the revival of games that for decades enlivened the streets of the islands’ towns and villages.
Those attending will have the opportunity to try their skill at Passju and test the precision of their aim at Boċċi and Ballun Stop. They may choose to chase a rival team in Gwerra Franċiża, do their best to grab a handkerchief before their opponent during il-Logħba tal-Maktur, try their utmost not to be caught in Ħarba or sprint after the bee in Iż-Żunżana Ddur Iddur. Those who prefer something less physically demanding may opt for Ħaġa Moħġaġa or Bum Bum il-Bieb, while others may decide to attend a kite-making workshop and fly their self-made manoċċa, as it is known in Żejtun, off St. John’s Cavalier.
The great majority of games mentioned above were at the height of their popularity during the British period when many families were unable to afford the luxury of toys and the streets were still generally traffic-free. Children therefore created their own diversions making use of whatever means were available to them. Balls, used to play Ballun Stop and Iż-Żunżana Ddur Iddur, were often made out of rags, while pebbles or small stones were used to mark the numbers in Passju. Kite flying was also a well-liked pastime since kites were very cheap to make and only required paper, cane, glue paste and thread, all easily available materials.
Particular games also mirrored the socio-political context of the time and represented what was expected from children in their future as adults. Gwerra Franċiża and Ħarba for instance strongly reflect the experience of war, with the aim of the games being the respective rescue and capture of prisoners. While boys were often involved in play that gave them the chance to show physical prowess, girls preferred to participate in games that suggested their future station in life. One such game was Bum Bum il-Bieb which consisted in choosing a beautiful damsel to be the wife of an itinerant Knight looking for love – the dream of many a young lady.
Children however, were not the only ones in need of diversion; men looked forward to a game of Boċċi with their friends after a week’s work. Boċċi, whose origins probably go back to Hospitaller times, involves getting closest to the likk and preventing opponents from doing so. While Boċċi is almost exclusively played by men, women had their own type of entertainment. A session of Ħaġa Moħġaġa was very popular amongst them and required considerable skill in solving the riddles, customarily presented by the eldest of the group.
As is the case with other forms of intangible heritage, traditional games risk being forgotten by younger generations who no longer have the opportunity to play them. This festival therefore intends to present games as an integral part of Maltese cultural identity that should not only be preserved but also actively promoted. Those attending the festival will, moreover, have the possibility of presenting any pre-1980 toys in their possession as donations to the national collection. They will in turn be awarded an official receipt by the curatorial team at the Inquisitor’s Palace. Visitors at the Museum will also be able to see a temporary exhibition of altar and church models from Mr. Mario Coleiro’s private collection. Such miniatures were for generations popular toys for boys and adults alike.
Parents and children attending this festival are sure to spend quality time together, strengthening important family values and rediscovering the joy of playing simple yet highly-interesting games that provide a welcome change to expensive technological entertaining devices. All those who participate will also have the occasion to leave behind, for an afternoon, a lifestyle that for many has become increasingly sedentary, and exercise both body and mind in games that require dexterity and creativity. Besides spending a fun afternoon with the family, this festival gives adults the chance to relive their childhood, and children the opportunity to enjoy games that have provided their parents and grand parents with what they would probably describe as the best time of their lives.
This festival is being supported by the Parliamentary Secretary for Public Dialogue and Information.